Above the Fray

By Nate Bebout

Sometimes friends ask me how I,
stay above the fray of political intrigue.
As a servant of the Church
whose members are both
conservative and liberal,
traditional and progressive,
how is it that I can remain engaged
without engaging in the furious,
incessant fight for truth?

Is it weakness or wisdom
that muzzles the mouth
of a person with a voice that resonates with so many?

Wouldn’t it be better, they ask,
for you to release the prophetic fire
that no doubt burns in your belly,
and put the issue to rest?

How does one respond to
the unceasing outrage when
every word is measured,
a grain at a time,
on dishonest scales
and silence is viewed,
with folded incredulity,
as compliance with the enemy?

When communicating with
the self-righteous,
I have found that it is impossible
not to sound trite and condescending.
And so the temptation remains
for me to sit content and sublime
on my deserted island of sophistication
while the rest busy themselves
building sandcastles of certainty
while the next wave builds strength.

Annoyingly, Jesus interrupts
my self-congratulation
and invites me to follow Him
into the whole ugly affair
as He assures me,
that the fishing is best
when people have tried
everything they know
and still have empty nets.

As we get closer
to the unsettled crowds
I keep expecting to see
wild-eyed lunatics
and misinformed ideologues
but all I can find are my
brothers and sisters,
men and women
for whom Christ died.

So the trick, it seems,
isn’t in staying above
as much as it is dwelling among
those unpredictable and
often self-centered others
that God simply refers to as
our neighbors.

Nate Bebout  an alumn of Ashland University and Ashland Theological Seminary is Lead Pastor at Park Street Brethren Church in Ashland, Ohio.  




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